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The Case of the Shrinking Penis
by Gene Logsdon
Americans smirk at Ruandans and other African societies which lately seem to
be on a binge of penis phobia. There have been reports of angry crowds
slaughtering witch doctors who were thought to be casting spells on males to
shrink their penises. But a new and alarming and respected scientific theory
suggests that First World industries have cast a "spell" on penises
throughout the world. Not to mention breasts, livers, thyroids, and other
Alligators in Florida are turning up with shrunken or deformed sex
glands, as are fish in the Great Lakes and off the coast of England, as well as
birds in California. These problems have been tentatively traced (some
scientists say conclusively) to hormone compounds in wastewater or, in more
cases, to synthetic endocrine disrupters in pesticides and other industrial
chemicals that mimic natural hormones.
Growth hormones are present naturally in the body in very minute
quantities, and even an extremely small additional amount can upset the
endocrine system, especially in the very young, says Theo Colborn, the leading
scientist in this investigation. These endocrine disrupters are being
fingered as possible causes of reproductive problems of women whose mothers took
DES (diethylstibestrol, also used to make cattle gain weight faster) and to the
general decline in sperm counts being recorded in various regions, as well as
rising incidences of testicular cancer. Some scientists see a causal connection
between breast cancer and hormone distruptors too.
Although industry and agribusiness are pooh-poohing the theory, the
scientific evidence is grave enough to have led opposing debaters to issue this
consensus statement in 1991:
"We estimate with confidence that
some of the developmental impairments reported in humans today are seen in adult
offspring of parents exposed to synthetic hormone disruptors ... released in the
environment. The concentrations of the number of synthetic sex hormone agonists
and antagonists measured in the U.S. human population today are well within the
range and dosages at which effects are seen in wildlife populations. ... Unless
the environmental load of synthetic hormone disruptors is abated and controlled,
large-scale disfunction ... is possible."
Wouldn't it be a tragic irony if those advertisements you see
everywhere of macho, meat-chewing athletes with milky mustaches and xylophone
abs become only mockeries of the truth: cardboard fronts hiding low sperm
counts and shrivelled genitals?
More from Gene Logsdon: Thoughts On Economic
Excerpted from Gene Logsdon's soon-to-be
published (expected 6/1/97) book: The Contrary Farmer's Invitation to
Gardening. All Rights Reserved/© by the author. Permission to use must be
obtained in person from Gene Logsdon (419) 294-2002, or in writing from the
publisher, Chelsea Green
Logsdon writes from his farm in Upper Sandusky,
Ohio, and is a frequent contributor to Ohio Magazine. Logsdon's previous
books include The Contrary Farmer, available from
Chelsea Green Publishing
Company, and At Nature's Pace, published by Pantheon. You can
Logsdon's books from Amazon.com Books.
©1997 Committee for Sustainable
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